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Penrose Library Blog

Public Domain in 2019

by Emily Pearson  Jan 11 19

(Cover art: Hopper, E. (1923). The Locomotive. Retrieved from

2019 is a big year for copyright in the US. January 1st marked the first mass release of materials into the public domain since 1998, when the Sonny Bono Act passed and pushed the amount of time after a work was created that it would be released to the public domain up to 95 years (“Public Domain Day 2019,” 2019). This means as of January 1, 2019, anything made in 1923 or earlier is in the public domain. There are works published after 1923 that are in the Public Domain because they were not properly copyrighted or because creator’s purposefully chose to release their work to the public domain.

Cecil B. DeMille. (1923). The Ten Commandments. Retrieved from

But what does this mean for you? Public Domain means that materials, including books, poems, images, film, and any other materials that can be copyrighted are available for free use by anyone, meaning you can create a work of art that contains the full text of Robert Frost’s “New Hampshire,” or that you can have free access to the complete text of Virginia Woolf’s novel Jacob’s Room, or that you can host a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s film “The Pilgrim” without acquiring the Public Performance Rights.

Mack, C., & Johnson, J. (1923). Charleston. Harms Incorporated. Retrieved from

That being said, assuring something is in the public domain or finding it now that it is can be difficult. It’s easier to prove a copyright exists than that it doesn’t. As well, while a lot of things technically entered the public domain, years of neglect and other factors have led to them being ruined or lost entirely, particularly early films. Penrose Library recently joined Hathitrust, a partnership of academic & research institutions who were responsible for much of the digitization the created Google Books. Hathitrust has put together a collection of the over 50,000 works in the Public Domain they have digitized. These works can be downloaded whole, text-mined, repurposed, and re-used freely. Other massive digital collections from the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress have filters to show you only public domain works.

For more information on copyright check out our guide.


Public Domain Day 2019. (2019). Retrieved January 11, 2019, from


Feeling the “winter blues”?

by Julie Carter  Nov 30 18

Penrose Library houses six light therapy lamps for those who feel light deprived or are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Our “happy lights” provide daytime light intensity by replicating early morning or late afternoon spring-time light levels. Lamps are available on the first, second, and third floors of the library. Please consult the instructions for proper use provided with each lamp.

Lamps furnished by ASWC Savings Fund Grant.

Thanksgiving Break Hours

by Julie Carter  Nov 16 18
Penrose Library will observe the following hours during Thanksgiving Break:
November 16, Closed at 5:00 pm
November 17-21, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
November 22-23, Closed
November 24, 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
November 25, Open at 1:00 pm, resume 24 hours for the Whitman community

Trans Awareness Week Display

by Julie Carter  Nov 9 18

November 12 – 19 marks Transgender Awareness Week, a time to increase visibility of transgender and gender non-conforming communities and the issues they face. On the short book stacks by the library entrance, you can find a selection of materials exploring transgender history, lives, and resources. Works include academic texts, fiction, and films. More resources are available in Sherlock. Last year, the Office of LGBTQIA+ and the student group P.R.I.S.M. put together a list of digital media with LGBTQIA+ characters, actors, or creators. If you’re looking for something to watch or listen to, this can be a great way to find media with positive LGBTQIA+ representation. If you have suggestions to add to the list, you can submit them here for the Office’s consideration.

Transgender Awareness Week leads up to November 20, Transgender Day of Remembrance, which “honors the memory of those whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence” according to GLAAD. TDOR was started in 1998 in honor of Rita Hester. For more information on the day visit

International Open Access Week 2018

by Julie Carter  Oct 24 18

October 22-28, 2018 celebrates International Open Access Week!  Open Access Week highlights the potential benefits of Open Access (OA) to make scholarly research available in digital forms online, free of charge and free of many copyright and licensing restrictions.  This year’s Open Access Week theme is “Designing Equitable Foundations for Open Knowledge” emphasizing the importance of open systems being inclusive and equitable as OA becomes more prevalent to share research.

Dalia Corkrum, Library Director, shares news about Lever Press, an open access monograph publishing imprint, supported primarily by the Oberlin Group of Academic Libraries.

Lever Press : A Game Changer Facilitated by Liberal Arts College Libraries

 “Give me a place to stand with a lever,” said Archimedes, “and I can move the whole world.”

Several years ago, a group of liberal arts college library directors, despairing over the crisis in academic publishing, wringing their hands over failed efforts to reform the system, and kvetching about the millions of dollars they dispatch annually to the coffers of presses whose practices they oppose, decided to repurpose some funds and create the lever they lacked.

The result: The Lever Press was launched in 2016.  Whitman College through Penrose Library was one of the founding members.

Fifty-four liberal arts college libraries, most of whom are members of the Oberlin Group of Libraries, spent two years studying the problems associated with current models of scholarly publishing, identifying alternatives, surveying faculty regarding their publishing needs and finding publishing partners who align with our vision.  We made a financial commitment to pledge ½ of 1% of our acquisitions budgets for five years in order to develop a digitally native press that places transformational scholarship at its core. Our member institutions focus on, and are renowned for, excellence in teaching and scholarship. We expect no less from our press.

For members of the Oberlin Group and a few other selected institutions to embark on launching a press was no easy task.  Few of us had previous experience with academic publishing and no one had excess funds to devote to the project. It was our deep understanding of the flawed publishing system and our commitment to equity of access to scholarship that propelled this project.  We currently fund the press and elect representatives to govern it. The Amherst College Press runs the editorial side of the operation, and Michigan Publishing runs the production side. But the Oversight Committee, which sets policy, consists of library directors. The Editorial Board consists of established scholars with tenured appointments at supporting institutions.  

How is Lever Press different from other Open Access initiatives?  The founding members of Lever Press made a commitment to totally funding the press – there are no submission fees, no download fees, no access fees – no fees of any kind.  Only print-on-demand services involve a monetary exchange.

The liberal arts ethos and the conviction that the liberal arts remain relevant to all people undergirds the Lever Press’s open-access commitment. All works published by the Lever Press are freely available to readers online, immediately upon publication. I think it bears repeating that the Lever Press goes one step further: unlike most open-access presses, the Lever Press charges neither readers nor authors.  All the costs of acquiring, editing, developing, and producing work are borne collectively by supporting institutions—not by individual authors or granting agencies. The Lever Press will never charge an author or her institution for publishing with Lever. Platinum open access means the Lever Press considers works solely with regard to that work’s scholarly merit; because Lever covers the costs of producing the work it acquires, it selects work only because it has deemed that work worthy of its investment.

The Lever Press aims for rigor in all matters. Although it rejects traditional practices that limit access to scholarship (pay walls, subscriptions, author fees and subventions), it embraces traditional practices (practices fading at some traditional presses) that mark good publishing: active recruitment of good scholars, the commissioning of new work, vigorous and transparent peer review, developmental editing, stringent copy editing, and professional production. Our first publication, reflecting all these commitments is Robin Truth Goodman’s Promissory Notes: On the Literary Conditions of Debt, was just published on October 17th.  In addition to citation and access information, each title receives clear indication of the level of peer review received.

Lever Press’s editors explore intellectual connections across academic disciplines and divisions, champion works whose methods and modalities reach beyond the standard 100,000-word monograph, and inspire the close collaborations between faculty and undergraduate students to develop path-breaking ideas communicated with clarity and creativity into publications that “teach what they know.”

The Lever Press offers a case study in how a group of librarians can seize the initiative and make the changes they wish to see in an industry—in this case, the scholarly monograph publishing industry—changes that have a big impact on our work as librarians and on the communities we serve. The Press devotes itself to producing the highest quality scholarship in an economically sustainable model, embodying and reflecting the values of the liberal arts, and leading the way in establishing best practices for born-digital, peer reviewed, open access monograph publishing. It embraces diverse voices and viewpoints, it hews to the principles of equity and social justice, and it predicates its work on collective decision-making, working with communities of its members and beyond.

October Break Library Hours

by Julie Carter  Oct 1 18

Penrose Library will be open the following hours to the Whitman community during October break:

October 3: open until midnight.
October 4-6: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm.
October 7: open at 9:00 am, resume 24 hours.

Library hours are 9:00 am – 9:00 pm for the non-Whitman community.

Banned Books Week

by Julie Carter  Sep 24 18

Penrose display of selected challenged materials.

Modified from the American Library Association Office for Intellectual Freedom:
Banned Books Week 2018 is September 23-29. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular. The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restricted in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

About Book Bans and Challenges
Books are still being banned and challenged today. A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.

Frequently Challenged Books
Top 10 Challenged Books

Penrose Library encourages you to borrow challenged materials on display this week near the circulation desk. Celebrate your freedom to READ!

Announcing Sherlock 2.0

by Kun Lin  Jun 26 18

Beginning July 2, 2018, Sherlock 2.0 will become our default interface for library searching and discovery. This Orbis Cascade Alliance-wide effort strives to improve your experience in discovery and access of our library collections. You may already be familiar with this interface; it has been available for preview since January 2018. Sherlock 2.0 has some new and updated features, including:

  1. Pinning items you are interested in, then easily sending your pinned list to your email or citation manager.
  2. Seeing and exporting citations with one click from the record.
    More functionality and easier browsing from your mobile device.

We welcome comments and suggestions on how we could improve your experience at Penrose Library. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected]. If you need help doing library research with Sherlock, please make an appointment with one of us through the “Contact a Librarian” link on the website. We are happy to meet with you and discuss your specific needs in accessing library resources.

Penrose Library Hours

by Julie Carter  May 15 18

Please be aware that Penrose Library’s hours have changed to reflect the end of the semester:
5/15: Closed at 10:00 pm
5/16-5/17: 9:00 am – 10:00 pm
5/18-5/20: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Beginning Monday, 5/21, the summer schedule will be in effect:
Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sat-Sun: closed
Please note: Thursday, 5/24, the library will be closed for Staff Recognition Day.

Submitting Your Honors Thesis

by Emily Pearson  May 7 18

As we reach the finishing line for honors theses, the library wants to remind you of a few tips and tricks to ensure an easy submission:

Forms: Both the ARMINDA Submission Agreement and the Certificate of Approval (2nd page of thesis template) need to be signed by your advisor. The Submission Agreement needs to be signed by any co-authors, even if they are not getting honors. The Certificate of Approval needs to be printed on the archival paper, and needs your information, advisors name, and correct date filled in.

Printer: The only printer you can use in the library is the one marked 2nd_theses, between the front two public access computers near the WCTS desk. Your thesis should be printed one-sided.

Paper: Paper will be in the 2nd_theses printer starting Tuesday (5/8).

PDF/A: The submission needs to be a PDF/A (archival PDF). Don’t forget to verify your PDF is saved as a PDF/A, this can be done on the computers next to the Theses printer using Acrobat. Instructions here

Personal Bound Copies: Students desiring to have personal copies of theses bound at their expense can order copies for $18 each, including tax and shipping. There is no limit to the number of personal copies you may order. Provide one complete copy of your thesis for every personal bound copy ordered. Personal copies may be printed on any printer, without special paper requirement. To order bound copies, please fill out the online order form.

Feel free to stop by any librarian’s office on the main floor for help. We will be around until about 5 every day, including Wednesday (meaning don’t wait until 7:30 Wednesday night, it will be too late!).

(Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash)